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Research Master

Graduate School of Communication

Thesis examples from Toni van der Meer and Susan Vermeer.

Framing the Crisis: The Interplay between PR, News Media and the Public - Toni van der Meer

This study emphasizes the frame-building process of organizational-crisis situations in the interplay between the domains public relations (PR), news media and the public. This research contributes to the conceptualization of framing and to the field of PR and crisis research by introducing framing on a so-called ‘communication level’. This approach defines a next-order process of domain-specific meaning provision and framing in the complex interaction of communications. To inquire communicative associations between PR, news media and the public in terms of alignment in crisis framing, a new analytical expansion of semantic-network analysis is developed to compare implicit framing among domains. By examining press releases, news articles and social-media manifestations of five Dutch crisis cases, the dynamic character of crisis framing emerged. In the interplay among their communications the domains PR, news media and the public move in relation to each other, resulting in a pattern of either the absence or presence of frame alignment. The study documents frame alignment among the domains in the second crisis phase, implying crisis-meaning coherence. This pattern of alignment is considered to be crisis specific as a necessity to collectively make sense of a complex crisis situation.

Keep the ball rolling: A social network analysis of football clubs'mediated public relations on Twitter - Susan Vermeer

Using a sample of over 4,5 million tweets, this study investigated how different types of social mediators influence the information diffusion process on Twitter. Social mediators were used to describe key users who connect organizations with their publics. Tweets were collected from users who tweeted about Dutch top-division (i.e., Eredivisie) and first-division (i.e., Jupiler League) football clubs. Social network analysis was applied to identify and characterize various types of social mediators, namely (a) organizational social mediators (e.g., teams or players), (b) industry social mediators (e.g., competitors or sports associations), (c) media social mediators (e.g., journalists), (d) individual social mediators (e.g., fans or supporters’ groups), and (e) celebrity social mediators. The results indicate that media social mediators, the most traditional PR mediators, were rarely found as social mediators and demonstrated a negative effect on fan engagement on Twitter. In contrast, relationships between football clubs and publics were primarily mediated by individual social mediators. A closer examination revealed that the types of social mediators vary between top-division and first-division clubs. The proportion of organizational and industry social mediators was significantly greater for first-division clubs, whilst media, individual and celebrity social mediators played a key role in connecting publics of top-division clubs. Notably, individual and celebrity social mediators are strong predictors of fan engagement on Twitter. Taken together, PR scholars and practitioners should recognize the potential impact of social mediators; given that even individuals can function as powerful users in the information diffusion process.


Some of our Research Master's students even suceed with publishing their theses after graduation. One of those excellent examples is Anja Wölker, who published Algorithms in the newsroom? News readers’ perceived credibility and selection of automated journalism, an adapted version of her thesis, in Journalism together with her supervisor Tom Powell.